A Waltz Dream

Oscar Straus’ A Waltz Dream opened last night in a Toronto Operetta theatre production at the St. Lawrence Centre.  The piece premiered in Vienna in 1907 and soon became a huge international hit with various English versions appearing quite early on.  The version given by TOT appears to be a 1970s version with book by Michael Flanders, Edmund Tracey and Bernard Dunn and the music adapted and arranged by Ronald Hanmer.

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The nightingale flies from its gilded cage

nightingale1Florence: The Lady with the Lamp, music by Timothy Sullivan, libretto by Anne Mcpherson, premiered at the Elora Festival in 1992 and n 1995 was the first Canadian work performed by VOICEBOX: Opera in Concert.  Yesterday afternoon they presented it again at the St. Lawrence Centre; staged and with orchestra.

It’s an interesting piece.  Some of it I liked a lot and some not so much.  The orchestral writing is excellent; colourful and atmospheric with some jazz influences.  I quite often found myself drifting off into listening to the orchestra when perhaps I should have paid more attention to the words, especially as there were no surtitles.  The vocal writing is less interesting but it had its moments especially in some of the ensembles.  It’s the old dilemma of whether or not to prioritise the comprehensibility of the words over strictly musical values. Continue reading

Drink! Drink! Drink!

jennifertOddly enough, what Toronto Operetta Theatre does best is operetta and the production of Romberg’s The Student Prince that opened yesterday afternoon is a pretty good example of why.  I suppose, technically, that it’s a Broadway musical but everything about it, down to the humour and sentimentality seems Teutonic enough.  Anyway, there’s a solid trio in the lead roles, the key back ups are thoroughly professional and the minor roles and chorus are filled out by talented and enthusiastic young singers.  The band is big enough to cover all the colours of the score and the staging is appropriate and not overly ambitious.  The piece gets to do its tuneful, rather bittersweet thing.

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